Google says Paytm app was not banned from Play Store for offering cash backs


Summary

  • Not that it meant that existing Paytm users could not use the app anymore because they could and neither did it mean that transactions stopped because they did not. All it meant was that you could not update the Paytm app or you could not download it again. It turns out Google classified some cashback and scratch card offers that Paytm was offering users ahead of the much awaited IPL 2020 T20 cricket season, as gambling and sports betting.
  • This was the first time that Google was sending us a notification regarding our UPI cash back and scratch cards campaign. Contrary to accepted practice, we were not given any opportunity to respond to their concerns or put forth our views, says Paytm in an official statement. They also add, we maintain that our cash back campaign was within guidelines, as well as all laws of the land. We did not break any rules and there was no violation. It is not related to gambling in any manner whatsoever.

On Friday morning, both the main Paytm app and fantasy gaming Android app ‘Paytm First Games’ were removed from the Play Store. Google objected to Paytm’s integration of real money gaming apps or websites into Paytm’s main payments app

Not that it meant that existing Paytm users could not use the app anymore because they could and neither did it mean that transactions stopped because they did not. All it meant was that you could not update the Paytm app or you could not download it again. It turns out Google classified some cashback and scratch card offers that Paytm was offering users ahead of the much awaited IPL 2020 T20 cricket season, as gambling and sports betting.

Google India says, Offering cash backs and vouchers alone do not constitute a violation of our Google Play gambling policies. Last week we reiterated our Play Store gambling policies. Our policies do not allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting, including daily fantasy sports in India. Google India confirms that the policies are enforced to ensure a safe and secure experience for consumers. In the case of repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts. Our policies are applied and enforced on all developers consistently, they added.

Paytm says that the first communication they received from Google stated that the Paytm app was being delisted from the Play Store in India. The apparent issues that were highlighted included UPI cashbacks and the scratch card campaign that Paytm was running at the time, ahead of the start of the IPL 2020 T20 cricket extravaganza. Paytm confirms that Google did not give them a chance to respond, as is usually the norm.

This was the first time that Google was sending us a notification regarding our UPI cash back and scratch cards campaign. Contrary to accepted practice, we were not given any opportunity to respond to their concerns or put forth our views, says Paytm in an official statement. They also add, we maintain that our cash back campaign was within guidelines, as well as all laws of the land. We did not break any rules and there was no violation. It is not related to gambling in any manner whatsoever.

A quick glance through the global Google Play Store policies, specifically tackling what it calls “Ads for Gambling or Real Money Games, Contests, and Tournaments within Play distributed Apps”, the company states that advertising gambling, real money games, contests and tournaments are allowed if the local laws of the location allow it. Also, the ads must not be displayed to users below the age of 18 years and the app must also not be enrolled for the Designed for Families program. At this time, it is not clear if Paytm has enrolled for this program.

Google Play Store listings in India said, A simple search for “fantasy cricket” on the Play Store for Android phones lists apps including Fantasy Cricket, CricPlay – India’s first Free Fantasy Cricket Game, Team11Fantasy – Free Fantasy Cricket and more. Even if these apps are not always enabling transactions or fantasy league game play, they are surely advertising such activities. Interesting to note though that Dream11, which is the title sponsor for this year’s IPL 2020 tournament and Mobile Premier League, or MPL which is the principal sponsor for the Kolkata Night Riders have Android apps, but they offer direct links to download and complete steps on how to side load apps on Android devices and not via the official Google Play Store.

Google Pay was running its own “Tez Shots” campaign with rewards of up to Rs 1 lakh and they would earn rewards based on scores for different services they use on Google Pay.

Paytm also points out that Google India has raised an issue of breach of policy in the past as well when Paytm advertised its own subsidiary, Paytm Games, on the app. Yet, Google India did not have any problem when Paytm Games was advertised using paid promotions on the YouTube platform.

Paytm also reiterated that its delisting from the Play Store was owing to its new cashback feature, which it launched to users on Friday morning, according to Google’s mail.

While Paytm did not directly engage in, or promote sports betting or gambling, it did have links to third party sites which did. The ease of using Paytm on these third party apps may have been viewed by Google as the element which makes Paytm as supporting these sites. Since many other apps are also promoting betting and gambling websites through ads and pop ups.

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